America is in the midst of a food revolution and it is impacting the restaurant industry in a dramatic way. No one can predict exactly how it will turn out. But be assured; amid rampant obesity, type 2 diabetes, GMOs, food deserts, and high fructose corn syrup; the factory to table model is on the way out.
Todays food culture is about authenticity, craftsmanship, heritage and flavor. This movement started over 40 years ago with people like Alice Waters and Julia Child. The environmental movement changed the way we feel about farming and fishing. Look out into the food-scape and what do you see? The variety of foods available in decent supermarkets is astounding, artisanal food making is all the rage, farmers markets have spread like wild fire. It’s not just about local either, it’s global. The internet has broadened our taste and desires.
What does all of this mean to the restaurant owner trying to understand and respond to the changing expectations of diners? A new generation of diners has emerged. Generation X tends to snack more, embrace exotic foods, demand higher quality, buy local and are a prime targets for convenience, premium and ethnic foods. The Millennials are the most food savvy and are the real drivers of new dining concepts built around fusion of cuisines, service styles, themes and technology. It’s not just foodies and food activists any longer.
You have to stay ahead of the curve. You have to rethink your menu offerings, where you buy your goods, the technology you offer your guests, how you train your staff and the way you market yourself.
The status quo won’t keep you competitive.
Originally published 4/9/13